Fun Filming in the Cold

Yesterday the kids decided that they wanted to make a film. A fair bit of planning took place, with storyboards and the like being produced. When the kids were ready we headed off into the wind and rain to do our filming. When we got on site the wind chill was about -2. Luckily we weren’t out in it for too long.

The kids and my good lady did the editing this afternoon… so I now present our film.

Wild Shetland…

They have plenty more ideas up their sleeves so be prepared for more madness.

The Adventures of Betty

So with no time to get anything painted tonight I thought I would tell you all a story. Are you Sitting comfortably? Well now I shall begin.

This story starts long ago on Shetland…January 1886 to be a bit more specific. It involves and ordinary lady called Betty Mouat.

Betty was 56 years old at the time and had recently had a stroke so needed to visit a doctor in Lerwick, sell some of her knitting and visit her sister. Although a 35 minute drive now, back in 1886 it was either walk the 25 miles or take 2-3 hours travelling by Sea. Betty chose the latter. She boarded the Columbine a sailing smack with a crew of three.

By all accounts she went below with her knitting as the weather was blowing up. A short while later as the boat pitched in a heavy sea she heard shouting from the Skipper and the sound of running feet. Shortly afterwards there was a shout, more commotion and the silence. Betty stayed below for a while and then struggled up the ladder to find that she was alone on the boat – of the crew there was no sign. Unbeknownst to her the Skipper had been washed overboard, the mate and crewman had immediately launched a small boat to rescue him. Sadly he was not found in time and drowned, when they tried to return to the Columbine they found her, still under sail, too far away to have any chance of catching her.

Betty however was now alone on a boat in a storm. The boat was being carried by the wind and with no crew was at the mercy of the waves. Betty survived by hanging onto a dangling rope. Sadly her ordeal was far from over. The constant motion of the boat meant that both hands were rubbed raw. As she boarded she had brought only a couple of penny biscuits and a jar of milk. She rationed herself to a sip of milk and half biscuit waiting in the bowels of the boat. She was unable to lie down and had to keep an eye out for flying furniture. On the fourth day her food ran out, but she had been able to get hold of the skipper’s jacket and use some twine to make loops to help her poor bleeding hands.

Her Journey carried on even after the food ran out, she slept fitfully dangling from her rope and was unable to lie down. Food for the crew was stored in the Forecastle but the ladder had fallen in the storm and she was now too weak to lift it into position.

Eventually she managed, with some difficulty, to wedge a box below the hatch and could peep out, she saw a strange coastline with Snow covered mountains, however the wind and current were taking her further away, stern first. The storm returned and Betty had to endure further battering. Eventually the boat crashed against rocks, but the stout timbers held as the storm crashed her into more and more jagged teeth.

Eventually to her relief the boat at last came to a halt.

Some local boys had been watching out for their own boats and saw the Columbine strike the rocks. Fishermen from the local village rushed to her aid. A rope was strung out and poor Betty had to travel the last few yards hand over hand. She was taken to a local village and nursed by the fishermen and their families. She didn’t understand a word they were saying, for unbeknownst to her, she was now in the village of Ronstad on the island of Lepsoy, Norway!

Betty had been at sea for eight nights and nine days.

As you can imagine, back on Shetland, all hope of finding her alive were gone. All believed that she had gone down with the boat. Most fishing boats were hauled up for the winter months and although a merchantman searched over 200 miles no trace was found.

You can no doubt imagine the amazement of all involved when a newspaper article appeared speaking of the miraculous rescue of one miss Elizabeth Mouat in Norway. Luckily and Englishman was running his cod liver oil trade not far away from Ronstad and he relayed the news.

After some rehabilitation Betty was returned the England landing in Hull . She rode on her ver first train trip to Edinburgh where loads of well wishers waited for her in droves. She stayed with a Shetland family for three weeks only to have all the well to do society ladies beating a track to her door to hear her tale.

Eventually she made it back to Shetland to find a letter of congratulations from Queen Victoria as well as a donation of £20 for her.

Queen Victoria also sent Silver medals to the Norwegian fishermen and the owner of the Columbine gave them the reward he had posted for any news of the missing boat.

Betty stayed on her Croft, accepting occasional tourist who wanted to hear her Tale. She passed away at the age of 93 on the 32nd anniversary of her last night on the Columbine.

She is laid to rest in Dunrossness Graveyard.

Her home is now a camping bod down near Sumburgh.

Hopefully you found it an interesting bed time story.

8 hours to go…

Well that is the holiday over, apart from an 8 hour journey home.

Orkney has been great, but I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned I was there, it rained and the tents flooded. We had to spend £55 to get in the hostel for an evening.

Anyway some photos…

Precursor to the Churchill barrier, one if the actual barrier to the left of the photo.

Tomb of the Eagles

Ness of Brodgar, top photo shows the 4 metre wide wall, middle one shows an unusual and very large rectangular Neolithic building. The bottom shows the extent of the excavations to date, but basically based on geophysics, every bit of the grass that can be seen has a structure under it. Not bad for buildings 5000 years old.

They were importing goods from as far away as Cumbria (and beyond, I just can’t remember where else 🙄)

These are the stones of Stenness – these predate Stonehenge. A tenant farmer tried to blow these up with dynamite but was stopped by the local population! The two concrete blocks mark where another couple of stones stood. In 1906 one if the stones below that had fallen was replaced by 8 men and a wooden scaffold. For scale these are about 15 feet (5 metres high)

The ring of Brodgar, a famous Orkney land mark. These stones differ from the ones above in that they are not dug in as deep. They come from 19 different parts of Orkney and current thinking is that they are so shallow (around 30cm) as they were meant to be taken down and replaced by other stones. The ditch was cut into bed rock with Neolithic tools of antler picks!

I will be back in operation tomorrow evening.

Off Island…

Weather for the journey South is rather pleasant

Bressay just disappearing into the Haa (sea mist)

Here we are passing the end of the Shetland mainland…

I took photos of Puffins from over there.

Four hours to go before we get off!

Painting, Pufflings and Radar

Well, I managed to get some painting done over the last couple of days…

I decided to have a bash at the 10mm elves. As I had some contrast paint knocking about I decided to give it a go on a smaller scale.

Now if you remember, the last lot of these that I painted really ground me down ( ). Now I don’t know if it was the different paint, my state of mind or a combination of both, but basically I enjoyed painting these. The contrast paint really worked on them. As I only had three pots of it I painted with washes as well just to keep the momentum up. They have come along a bit since this photo was taken this evening. All that is left now is the metalwork, washes on the hair and then the bases painting.

I decided to get some new contrast paint ( the eagle eyed mathematicians amongst you would have realised that I had more than three pots in the photo above)..this was used on the 10mm stuff as well as the 28mm MI. Now to be fair I am still getting to grips with this paint, but, it does definitely seem to be helping speed things up a bit. Some of it seems to work better than others, but it could be that I haven’t shaken it up enough, or that perhaps a grey undercoat (in the case of the MI) isn’t the best.🤔

We have had a house guest since last Friday, today was his last day and he really, really wanted to see some Puffins… he had been to Sumburgh the day he arrived, but they were all out at sea. Today was a nice sunny day… 22.5 degrees which was a bit warm for us hardy northerners 😂. We took him down to see if the blasted birds had come back, luckily a good dozen or so made an appearance.

I forgot the camera so had to make do with my IPad. Here we have a phot of a pair, the one on the right is flaring into land. Then something amazing happened…

A chick (puffing) appeared, this is a lot more rare than one might expect. Bonxies (Shetland name for the Great Skua) would have him in a flash so they normally appear at night to have a bit of a wing flap (you can just see him at the entrance to his burrow).

As for the radar… Fitful head had a radar station set up during WW2. This helped foil a Luftwaffe raid on Scapa flow in Orkney. They picked up the raid and gave the AA gunners in Orkney a heads up as to direction and speed.

Being a bit exposed on the Southern point of Shetland, sometimes grumpy German gunners would vent their spleen as they flew past…. you can see the effect here…

So that is a little bit more on the out and about on Shetland Blog 🤣.

Not a bad place to live really…

Next stop…Norway

Who’s the Tourist?

Due to an Air Traffic controller strike I am still in Edinburgh… went shopping, went out for tea with a couple of colleagues, then back to the hotel for an early night as I need to be up at 04.30 to get the flight back home.

So tonight we have some touristy pictures 😱

I also made a little friend..

This was just after he scampered up my leg!

And finally… what is with the hotel carpet in the corridors?

Geographical History

Round about 6 Miles south of Gunnister is my next interesting locale, well it is if you are me 😁.

Next up is Mavis Grind. This is the narrowest point in Shetland. One one side is the Atlantic and the other is the North Sea. Why is it interesting, well, apart from the actual geography, the history of the place is pretty cool too.

As mentioned above, the Shetland Islands (never, never call it ‘The Shetland’s’ up here) sits with the North Sea to the East and North Atlantic to the West.

Atlantic to the left, North Sea to the right

As Vikings colonised this part of the world they took advantage of this narrow strip of land… rather than sailing all they way around they would drag their boats across from one side to the other. The name is from the Norse and means something along the lines of: ‘Gate of the narrow isthmus’ . This method pretty much carried on for centuries especially in the winter months when coming round either end of the islands was asking for trouble.

In times gone by the ground level was a lot lower, the main road built it up. Supposedly at the narrowest part it is something like 33m (110 feet) from high water to high water.

in the late 90’s the BBC or someone similar did a test…

They did indeed pull a boat from the sea to the ocean. Not sure why they needed to try as in the archives there are lots of pictures and testimonies of people doing just that.

Okay it isn’t as big as the one above but they did indeed do it up until relatively recently.

No models, painting or nothing tonight as I am sitting in a hotel room in Edinburgh eating salt and vinegar Pringles and drinking tea… what a rock and roll lifestyle I lead!

Back to Shetland on Friday morning…

Bodies…Or Lack of Really

Another road trip with work to the north of the island led me past the scene of an extremely important find.

Picture the scene… 12th May 1951. Two men were cutting a new peat bank and came across some human remains at a depth of 75cm or roughly 3 feet down. Police were called and thankfully it wasn’t an ‘orrible murder but something historical and very interesting indeed.

What they had come across was a burial from the 17th Century. By the time they found him there was nothing left but his finger and toe nails, some hair and a few fragments of bone. His clothing and personal effects however were pretty much intact.

His purse still held three coins (1 Dutch and 2Swedish). One of the coins had the date 1690 and his clothing was of a style typical of the 17th century.

The reconstruction of his clothing looked like this…

His grave location was marked by the men who erected a large stone…

I think it was the one above as the sign wasn’t that specific…

It was common practice up here to simply bury someone who was found up on the hill, a shallow grave was dug away from any peat workings if the body was unrecognised. This was especially the case if the body had been there a while.There are no records of this man being buried or no folk memories either so this could possibly be the case. Hypothermia or some illness could have caused him to die between townships. Was it murder, although there is no evidence on the clothing and the fact that there were coins in his purse, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t. He may have had pack ponies with him with valuable goods in… we never can tell. One theory I have heard was that he might have been out collecting rents from the various crofting communities… who knows?

It is a bit sad to think that this man one day simply disappeared, potentially leaving family and friends to wonder why he never came back.

So there you go… the Gunnister man… an extremely important archaeological and historical find.

Next time we will look at some geographical history, or potentially historical geography…

Off Gallivanting II

Today we did a recce of the WW2 town defences of Lerwick. By all accounts these are the best preserved in the UK… which is pretty cool.

We just looked at the mid area defences and not the outer ring, the inner ring has pretty much gone due to houses etc. This lot are also up for destruction as Lerwick expands up onto Staney Hill.

Now to the photos.. a view from and of one of the observation posts…

The view out of the slit is off the South end of the harbour, the land beyond the sea on the left is the island of Bressay. The green lump jutting out to the sea is where the main seaward battery sat.

Some lumps and bumps, I am not sure what this is as it has a couple of bunkers/ pits and connecting trenches. It could be a mortar pit with ammunition bunker or I could be talking bollocks… A lot of this section of defences are sitting under those houses… just below them are a pretty well preserved section of tank traps.

Random shots of trenches and bunkers next. The last faces inwards and not towards the potential attack direction, this was deliberate as enemy forces were expected to make for the gaps in the hills and there they would be caught by enfilade fire from both flanks…

In the field below the track there are a host more bunkers and trenches and one of the three spigot mortar positions we have found.

This last photo is taken from another bunker towards more tank traps

This is just scratching the surface of what is up on the hills or down towards the town. I might try and get along to the gun positions at the south end. The north end guns were knocked down and an industrial park built over them. The blue building in the distance is somewhere near where they were.

Off Galivanting

Today was the last day of our Easter Holidays…

for some reason Shetland has the school Easter holidays at a set time this means we go back on Monday, w3 are back a week then off for Easter Monday…🤨

My little boy is over the chicken pox and my good lady is over her lurgy and off work so off we went on a mini road trip, involving two ferries.

First stop was the reconstructed Viking Longhouse on the Island if Unst…

There is also a full size reconstruction of the Gockstadt longship. A bit of a long story, but basically it sailed from Norway, got as far as Shetland and never got any further…

A bit more Viking Shenanigans took place with a visit to an original Viking longhouse. This one is a bit of a do-upper. It was built before 1100ad

This appeared due to coastal erosion. Over the last 900 years the sea has worked its way inland and something that was on good farmland is now nearly in the sea.

We then went decidedly modern by visiting Muness Castle. This was built in 1598

It is more of a tower house really, but it was involved in a bit of a fracas with Earl Stewart who built Scalloway Castle (both had the same architect!)

Holes for firearms are everywhere…

The kids enjoyed exploring with the supplied torches…

All in all a good day.

On the hobby front I started printing off the dropship as well as meeting a Facebook Challenge of 30 minutes painting a day for 50 days… we will see how that pans out…